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Diagnosis of God

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Clusters of traits found together in one character may lead audiences to armchair diagnose that character with a real-life disorder sharing those traits, regardless of the creator's intentions. In response, a creator confirms outside of the work that they intend for their character to have a real-life disorder, whether one categorized as mental (like depression), neurological (like autism), or physical (like a traumatic brain injury); alternatively, they deny it. These statements can be made for many reasons, such as stopping characters from being Diagnosed by the Audience (and if it's creator-confirmed, it no longer applies for that) or clarifying their setting lacks an in-universe equivalent for the definitions and treatment of the out-of-universe disorder.

Hollywood Psych may apply. Creators often believe they're depicting a disorder, but base their depiction on outdated or incomplete understanding. Some creators do have experience with diagnosing real people, but even within the various fields trained in diagnostic techniques and treatment, people disagree about what defines any given disorder and the criteria gets revised.

See also: Word of Gay (similar trope), Word of God (supertrope), Autism in Media (index with examples that may have been confirmed outside of the work or not). This does not have to be used to know someone is a Mad God, but a character who is a god can be an example of this trope if the creator says so.


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    Fan Works 
  • In Breathers For Applejack, Twilight Sparkle displays several traits of obsessive-compulsive disorder, even beyond her fixation on keeping things organized in the original show. She tends to jump to pessimistic conclusions, obsessively thinks about things that stress her out, and has the compulsive tic of chewing on her hoof-tips when she's nervous or thinking. It's never directly stated in the story, but in a reply to reader comments, the author confirmed he wrote Twilight as someone with OCD. In fact, he has OCD himself, and based his version of Twilight on his own experience.
  • Let Us Be Your Poison: Pyrrha Nikos has been confirmed by the story's author to be on the autism spectrum. She has difficulty socializing with other people but doesn't tell anyone because she fears they will treat her differently.
  • Narnia-Verse Series: The Author's Note of Revolution Part 1: Inferno reveals that David is diagnosed with autism (ASD), anxiety (GAD), and depression (MDD).

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Fatal Attraction: In a Word of Saint Paul example, Glenn Close stated that she regards Alex Forrest as having borderline personality disorder.
  • Fantastic Beasts has a Diagnosis of Saint Paul, with Eddie Redmayne stating his character Newt Scamander has Asperger's syndrome and he portrays him as such, but due to autism spectrum disorders not being recognized at the time the series is set, there is no official diagnosis.
  • Mimic: Chuy is depicted as developmentally disabled, but his condition is only specified to be autism in an interview with director Guillermo del Toro.
  • For Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino told Leonardo DiCaprio to play Rick Dalton as having bipolar disorder that he self-medicates with alcohol. This was inspired by actor Peter Duel.
  • Tommy Wiseau has helpfully clarified that, yes, Denny of The Room (2003) does have some sort of mental disorder, a detail that makes many of his scenes make more sense. According to Wiseau, Denny is "retarded, a little bit". It should be noted that he did not explain this to Philip Haldiman, who played Denny.

  • While descriptions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time often describe Christopher as having Asperger's syndrome, author Mark Haddon has stated that he went out of his way to make sure Christopher wasn't described as having any specific disorder and that he did more research on the London Underground than he did on autism.
  • The Empyrean: While Violet's medical condition isn't named in the text due to the low-tech fantasy setting, Rebecca Yarros has stated that Violet is intended to have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which both Yarros and her sons also have.
  • Geek Girl author Holly Smale was diagnosed with autism and dyspraxia after the series concluded and has retroactively described Harriet Manners as having both conditions as well, though she was not intentionally written as having either.
  • Origami Yoda: Dwight and Harvey are both confirmed to have Asperger's syndrome, which author Tom Angleberger has himself, making them more similar. It's never said that either of them have Asperger's in-universe, and in fact Angleberger has actually stated that Dwight is undiagnosed, but in hindsight, the girls in Tippett Academy may have had a point in calling him "special". Dwight also has several of the characteristics, such as an aversion to physical contact and being eccentric.
  • In Six of Crows, Kaz Brekker has touch aversion and specific triggers that stem from a traumatic incident during his childhood. Author Leigh Bardugo confirmed in an interview with Disability in Kidlit that he has PTSD.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Badass Bookworm Renarin Kholin shows some behaviours that are consistent with someone on the autism spectrum, like stimming with a metal box. After the release of the first book, Brandon Sanderson confirmed that he's on the spectrum.
  • In Warrior Cats, Moth Flight is often easily distracted even though she tries hard to focus on things. A fan pointed out that her behaviors were very similar to someone with ADHD, and author Kate replied that she hadn't thought of it before, but that Moth Flight "definitely has ADD."
  • Wax and Wayne: Lady Steris has No Social Skills by her own admission, exhaustively prepares for social encounters, and loves to memorize facts and lists. Brandon Sanderson confirmed that she's on the autism spectrum.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory has Sheldon Cooper, a highly intelligent theoretical physicist who's also interested in typical geek stuff like comic books with his circle of friends, but he's socially unskilled and narcissistic to the point where he tends to annoy even them, has hypersensitive hearing (which he refers to as Vulcan hearing), eidetic memory, and has highly specific rules and tics he needs to follow, like certain hours for the bathroom or knocking three times.note  The creators have stated that Sheldon does not have any specific disorder; rather, they kept his disorder ambiguous due to the Rule of Funny, in that they can have him react any way they want him to in a given episode without being tied down to having to follow the behavior of a specific condition (though this is contradicted by the episode "The Application Deterioration", in which Sheldon claims to have obsessive-compulsive disorder).
  • Vince Gilligan described Walter White and Todd of Breaking Bad as sociopaths, although he uses the term very loosely.
  • Better Call Saul: The shooting scripts mention Jimmy McGill's PTSD multiple times, and Peter Gould has discussed how the character has some dissociative tendencies going on.
  • The Bridge (US): Just what is up with Sonya isn't specified, but it appears to be Asperger Syndrome-style autism. Word of God, however, states that it is Asperger's, and the actress even has Alex Plank (creator of autism community website Wrong Planet, and someone who has Asperger's himself) as her advisor. Though the creator of the original The Bridge (2011) denied Saga (viewed as a popular portrayal of a woman with Asperger's) had autism or Asperger's and was in fact "just Saga."
  • The Chosen: Matthew is confirmed by series creator Dallas Jenkins to have Asperger syndrome. Given that the series is set in biblical times, this will never be discussed in-universe.
  • Doctor Who: Then-showrunner Steven Moffat stated in an interview that the Twelfth Doctor has ADHD. The closest this comes to being confirmed in-universe is in the ninth season prologue "The Doctor's Meditation", in which the Doctor himself states "[Clara] keeps telling me I've got ... attention deficit... ah ... something or other."
  • Hannibal: Bryan Fuller states that his version of Hannibal Lecter (played by Mads Mikkelsen) is not a psychopath; although he certainly displays psychopathic traits (sadism, manipulation of others, and of the course the whole "killing and eating people" thing) he's not a "true" psychopath in the sense that he can experience genuine empathy, regret, and deep emotion, particularly when it comes to his relationships with others, and he strongly desires companionship. Mads Mikkelsen has stated he plays Hannibal more like a twisted fallen angel with a bizarre sense of right and wrong, which closely matches Fuller's own views.
  • LazyTown: In a Diagnosis of Saint Paul example, Stefán Karl Stefánsson stated in a 2009 interview that Robbie Rotten has ADHD, OCD and Tourette's. Stefán had all three conditions himself, but said he was better than Robbie at managing his symptoms.
  • Parker from Leverage has Asperger syndrome, but this was only confirmed by the writers and presented as an ambiguous disorder in the show itself.
  • The British remake of Professor T. has a Diagnosis of Saint Paul example. The title character, Jasper Tempest, is explicitly portrayed as having OCD, like in the original Belgian series, but actor Ben Miller has claimed in at least two interviews that Jasper is also autistic.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch has said in DigitalSpy that he played Sherlock so that he can be read as either sociopathic, autistic, or both. Steven Moffat, on the other hand, has said that Sherlock is "not a sociopath, nor is he high-functioning. He’d really like to be a sociopath. But he’s so fucking not."
  • Kate Mulgrew got so fed up with how inconsistently Janeway was written on Star Trek: Voyager that she decided that her character had bipolar disorder.
  • Succession: Alan Ruck claims he believes his character Connor Roy suffers from ADHD as well as some unspecified "delusion disorder" but has remained undiagnosed due to his family's heavy stigma on mental health.
  • Hart Hanson the showrunner for Bones has said that whilst Season 8 implied Temperance "Bones" Brennan's quirks were due to her strained relationship with her mother he actually based her characterization (which is quite different to the one she has in the book series she show is based on) on a friend of his who has Aspergers, but that Fox wouldn't let them "label" her on-air.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Nagito Komaeda, in Danganronpa, lacks proper social awareness and comes across as off-putting to his classmates, even when he's sincerely trying to be polite. He also has an intense fixation on hope that drives him to extreme lengths to see a 'strong hope'. On top of that, he is unable to fully relate to others and is entirely unsympathetic and antagonistic towards anyone he believes insults hope. He eventually tells Hajime he suffers from frontotemporal dementia before suggesting he was lying for sympathy. Extra materials confirm he does indeed have this condition, which explains a lot of his strange behavior given that he displays numerous symptoms.
  • Our Life: Beginnings & Always: Cove Holden has undiagnosed autism, confirmed by the creators, and then later added to the game's epilogue.

    Web Animation 
  • Inanimate Insanity: In a July 2nd, 2016 AMA on DeviantArt, Soap has been confirmed as having OCD, while Suitcase has conversely been denied as having Aspergers, though that doesn't stop the latter from having a different disorder due to her strong hallucinations.
  • Underverse: After a number of theories regarding Ink's mental health and possible disorders, including one fan who complained that the character was demonizing autistic people, series creator Jakei stated that Ink was not characterized with any kind of mental disorder in mind. Instead, due to coming from another dimension and lacking a soul, such terms cannot be applied to him, thus putting him in Blue-and-Orange Morality instead.

  • Dina Saruyama from Dumbing of Age was retconned as having undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome in a blog post by the comic's author, David Willis. According to Willis, he didn't intentionally design Dina as autistic at first, but based her heavily on himself; after learning that he likely had undiagnosed Asperger's, he decided that Dina was the same way.
  • Dan Shive, creator of El Goonish Shive mentions in a Q&A Comic that over the years people have asked him if several of his characters - especially Tedd, Susan, Grace, and Noah as well as others - are on the autistic spectrum. His answer is a "solid maybe" as most of the times this comes up is after a character does something autobiographical which, in the same comic's commentary Dan ponders the same about himself. He comes to the conclusion that he might be and therefore he might have written traits into his characters but he doesn't know for sure.
    • A later strip gets close too, but doesn't officially provide a Delayed Diagnosis of ADHD to at least Tedd when Diane points out what Nanase considers "nerdy behaviour" in terms of getting deeply into something to the point of hyperfixation is similar to ADHD and Tedd has a moment of realisation about themselves. Dan points out in the commentary that this is once more a result of him researching the condition and realising he himself may have it.

    Web Original 
  • Looming Gaia: The Greys has said that Elska, Jeimos, and Mr. Ocean are autistic or at least have something similar to it in their respective species, but it's not explicitly mentioned in the series.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: When Lauren Faust was still the showrunner, she initially conceived Scootaloo's inability to fly as being disabled, then while the show was airing said that she "hadn't figured it out yet" (and as such was not disabled), then Faust stopped being the showrunner. Meanwhile, in-universe, for most of the series, it was left largely ambiguous whether Scootaloo had an actual disability or was just having trouble learning to fly ("Flight to the Finish", the first episode where her trouble flying played a major role in the plot, explicitly left it open as to whether she would eventually fly). Nonetheless, many fans held her up as a role model for people with disabilities (which caused a bit of controversy between them and fans who were hopeful to see Scootaloo eventually fly after seeing her struggle). After Scootaloo was shown with child-sized wings in "Growing Up is Hard to Do" as an adult, Word of God confirmed via Twitter that that was indeed meant to indicate an actual disability, but included the line "But fans are welcome to interpret things how they like" (given that Bulk Biceps can fly despite having even smaller wings, Scootaloo's situation still is technically open to interpretation).note 
  • Luz from The Owl House was confirmed by series creator Dana Terrace to be neurodivergent during a Tumblr AMA, though she wasn't written with any particular disorder in mind. A later interview would canonize the fan theory that she had ADHD.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In a 2020 podcast, Mitch Watson discussed how Fred was written with autism in mind; “ our version of Mystery Incorporated Fred is slightly on the spectrum. You know, he is slightly, he’s a little bit Asperger’s-y, you know, with his obsession with traps and his inability to sort of read human emotions properly and everything. So again, we never said this in the series, but this is what we, this was what was in our minds.”
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Entrapta is a genius primarily concerned more with science than with morality, has difficulty making friends, only eats food prepared a certain way, and little in the way of social tact. Given that it's a fantasy world, no one outright calls her autistic until character designs for Season 4 confirmed it.
  • Steven Universe: Peridot has multiple character quirks associated with autism; upon being asked about it in an interview, Rebecca Sugar stated that Peridot was not designed with autism in mind, but people are still free to consider her autistic if they want.
  • The creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) confirmed that their version of Michelangelo has ADHD-PI (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder predominantly inattentive).
    • For that series' successor Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, staff writer Ron Corcillo has stated that he views the show's version of Donnie as being somewhere on the autism spectrum, along with the show's version of Mikey also having a form of ADD.